Oregon governor protects Willamette Valley from invasion of GMO canola

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber last week enacted a moratorium banning the introduction of GMO canola (rapeseed) production in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, one of the world’s pre-eminent seed production regions, and the cultural and agricultural heart of of the state.

The ruling (HB 2427) came after the Center for Food Safety (CFS) sued Oregon’s agriculture department for what the center called the department’s “unlawful rule” allowing  the introduction of GMO rapeseed into the valley, a ‘protected district.’

CFS, backed by dozens of farmers and activist groups, explained that rapeseed is particularly aggressive at cross-pollinating with specialty seed crops, such as broccoli, kale and cabbage, spreads plant diseases and pests, creates invasive species problems and the spread of pesticide-resistant weeds, as well as contaminating organic food crops, rendering them unsaleable in many national and world markets.

Wikipedia describes the Willamette Valley as a “massively productive agricultural area,” its fertility the result of ice age floods. It is one of the largest urban agricultural areas in the U.S. and home to 70 percent of the state’s population. In addition to its numerous organic farms and seed production, the Willamette Valley is the source of most of the Christmas trees, grass seeds and hazelnuts sold in the U.S. It is also a major source of berries, vegetables and hops, used extensively in microbreweries throughout the U.S.  In recent years the Willamette Valley has also become a prime producer of fine wine.

One more little battle won against the pernicious invasion of GMO seeds.